By the time you read this my life will have prolonged to the grand age of 23. That’s right…Today is my birthday!
It’s exciting because I love birthdays and they’ve always been a pretty big deal for me. Today will most definitely be a wonderful day but I need to stop for a moment. I need to take a moment and remember.
Finals week was this week and it was most undoubtedly the most stressful week of my year. I’ve never felt stress like I did this week. I’ve not felt myself that close to a mental breakdown since the beginning of the year. Between the possibility of failing classes, performing well at work, and turning in the madness of assignments I found myself caught up in myself.
I had a few appointments with Pastors this week (just to chat and catch up) and they provided some of the more challenging conversations that I’ve had in recent memory. The conversations brought up my emotional stability (or lack thereof) and my priorities. Difficult things to hear but needed nonetheless. Sometimes you need a swift kick in the pants to remember what’s good in life.
The other aspect of conversation came in regards to my blog. As you all know, I’m pretty open with you here. I believe in building a refuge of honesty and I don’t really hold back. I’m unapologetic of that because I feel like I can make a true difference with people who struggle as I do. With that comes some negative repercussions.
I’ve had a few people recently make notice of their worry of me. If you don’t really know me outside of this blog then you’d probably think I was on the verge of suicide. I don’t blame people for that. It’s just an understandable consequence of how I write. Some people contain worry and judgment but never come to me and ask. I instead hear about it from outside sources. Frustrating as it may be, I have friends who will willingly approach me on such a subject.
This week my Pastor friends both offered me wise advice…Don’t forget about where you came from. Basically, don’t forget the hope. Don’t forget the Gospel.
Recently, all I’ve had time for is complaining. I’ll log on, vent, and sign off without ever taking time to be thankful. I try and be a refuge of hope for anyone who reads this blog but I completely forget about the hope part. I completely forget about reminding myself and others of the Gospel.
Some of the most amazing verses in the Bible contain a simple phrase: “But God”. Throughout the Bible, God’s children are constantly turning their backs on Him and worshipping other idols. Even though God is always gracious to bring them back, they continually turn to their sin. This is the frustrating dialogue of the Bible. It’s actually the frustrating aspects of our lives.
“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins…” Ephesians 2:1a
We are, by nature, sinful people. This world is a sinful place and the madness that is going on around us is ultimately because of sin’s affect: Death. God gave us Jesus to die for our sin. He took on death for us so that we could have something better. He did that for us, people who by no means deserve such love, so that we could spend an eternity with God. Whether you believe that or not is up to you. That message is my identity. That is who I am at my core.
If you happen to still be reading this, I just want to say this…I’ve come to the halfway point of my senior year at college and I’m stuck in nostalgia. I’m remembering the last five years. I’m remembering the hell that I have lived. I’ve wallowed in anger, despair, and death for so long. Not but a few years ago I actually wished my life to end. I couldn’t handle my circumstance anymore. I had turned my back on God and forsaken His love…I turned to my sin and I almost died because of it…
In His amazing, sovereign, all consuming love revived my spirit and gave me forgiveness. He gave me the grace to forgive those who had hurt me. He plucked me out of death and gave me life. How could I ever forget that message?
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ.” Ephesians 2:4-5a
Nowadays I’m stuck in this cycle of up and down. I’m learning how to control my emotions. I’m desiring to know God better. I’m a mess of a man. I’m sinful and in need of a Savior. Jesus is not done with me yet…
I am not defined by my anxiety.
I am not defined by my depression.
I AM defined by Christ and what He says. And He says that I am clean, righteous, and loved. So are you! You can have this very hope…You don’t have to live in your filth anymore. You don’t have to be defined by anxiety. You can be set free through Christ.
So yes, I am incredibly blessed as a 23 year old. I have an incredible family who loves me despite myself. I have the care of an amazing girl who accepts me for who I am, and I have a God who gave His only Son to die in my place.
I don’t deserve what I have and I don’t claim to know where I’m going in life. I know I will make mistakes. I know I will hurt people. I know people will hurt me. I know I will forget the hope that has set me free. Despite these things God remains the same yesterday, today, and forever. I will trust and abide in His mercy and love.
Happy Birthday, me.